I’m not sure which is better, the title “Humanoid Puppets” or the book’s artwork by Ray Theobald, featured on the cover of Paperback Parade #92. If coI’m not sure which is better, the title “Humanoid Puppets” or the book’s artwork by Ray Theobald, featured on the cover of Paperback Parade #92. If covers sell, this one is going fast.
The opening “Paperback Talk” by Gary Lovisi is an engaging mix of PBO news, LOCs, trivia and personal asides. Yes, the digital world is more immediate, but in that scrolling, jumping, click-tracking space there’s nothing to match this extended, diverse mix only available on paper. Even when news of a fresh title isn’t exclusive, its appearance here elevates its importance and Lovisi’s reporting puts a unique, personal touch on each entry.
Like a trip through a used bookshop, you never know what treasure lies waiting in the pages of Paperback Parade. This one hits the jackpot with Philip Harbottle’s report on Denis Hughes. After decades of research on post-war British science fiction writers, Harbottle earned the reward of literary agent to the Hughes estate. This gave him access to the writer’s personal memoirs. He presents key passages from Hughes’ memories here, connected by his own narrative to bridge the gaps in “Denis Talbot Hughes: His Own Story.”
Hughes only wrote science fiction during the early years of his long writing career, under an amazing array of pseudonyms. “. . . his work under such names as Gill Hunt and George Sheldon Brown rate as some of the worst SF novels ever published; but his later science-fantasy stories from the second half of his short [SF] career show he was a capable and often excellent writer.”
The many covers of his books shown in Harbottle’s “Denis Talbot Hughes: Bibliography” are every bit as strange and wonderful as the sample on PP #92’s cover. These pages alone are worth the price of admission.
Having read highlights of Hughes’ history and seen many of his amazing book covers, the outstanding question of their merit is answered in Harbottle’s final entry, “The Best SF of Denis Hughes.” “. . . a brief survey of the five Hughes titles that still burn brightly in my memory, fifty years after I first read them.” I won’t reveal their titles here, but I located three of the five on ebay as I write these words and suffice to say, I hope Harbottle finds a publisher to reprint them quickly! And let’s hope he can manage to retain their original covers.
Not long ago I heard Marc Maron’s interview with director William Friedkin (WTF podcast #684), who discussed The French Connection, The Exorcist, and Sorcerer, among other topics. When I realized Gary Lovisi’s article on “The Wages of Fear” was about the book on which Sorcerer was based, I was doubly intrigued. “The Wages of Fear by George Arnaud, is hard-boiled suspense at its best, a novel loaded with hard-luck characters and dripping with intense atmospheric suspense.” Lovisi recaps the story and the history of the book, which began in hardcover, proliferated in several paperback editions and was filmed twice, once in 1953 with its original title, and finally by Friedkin in 1977 as Sorcerer.
Paperback Parade designer, Richard Greene, offers a new installment of his “Matchless Paperbacks,” with an array of covers from Robert Ludlum’s series The Matarese Conspiracy, including a matchbook for The Matarese Circle.
Jon D. Swartz compiles “The Tor Double Novels,” listed in order by year along with notable awards, cover artists and personal recommendations. Like all of the articles in PP, it’s loaded with plenty of full color cover reproductions.
Gary Lovisi teams with Chris Eckhoff for the full list of “France Books: Fancy Sleaze with Foldout Covers.” Despite their name, France Books came from an outfit in California that published 70 titles under their banner during the early 1960s. I was surprised to learn several were written by Jim Harmon. With titles like Time Out for Sex, Call Me Nympho, and Jazz Me Baby, you don’t need the cover images to paint a picture of their content—but there are plenty unveiled here just the same.
As much as I enjoy reading PBOs, outdated attitudes of past decades, when too dominate can be spoilers. Richard Kellogg sums up the situation in his report on “Colonel Peter Trees: John Quirk’s Master Spy.” “Comments attributed to the leading characters may be perceived as sexist, racist, and homophobic. The females in the story are stereotyped as sex objects for the rich and powerful males attending the tournament.”
I can overlook a little of this, chalking it up to the era. But when these outdated attitudes drive the action, I have greater difficulty staying with the story. Kellogg gives fair warning for John Quirk’s trio of Peter Trees spy stories published in 1965, 1966 and 1968. “Despite these reservations, The Tournament provides a tantalizing glimpse back into the era of James Bond and the decade often referred to as the Swinging Sixties.”
In “Don Tracy & Deadly to Bed” Gary Lovisi espouses Don Tracy as an unsung scribe of noir and details the plot and post-war setting of a US Army base in Germany in Deadly to Bed. Lovisi’s verdict: a masterpiece of its genre.
Publishing westerns novels was declining in the late 1950s, so perhaps on the strength of their “Doubles,” Ace marketers thought to try “Three Westerns for the Price of One: The Ace Western Triples.” Michael S. Smith places them in the context of their era’s other entertainment trends and documents the stories and writers included in seven Ace Western Triples. -RK
Paperback Parade #92 5.5” x 8.5” 100 pages, full color throughout $15 + postage for a single issue $40 for three-issue subscription From: Gryphon Books...more
Walter B. Gibson wrote more than a hundred non-fiction books in addition to his amazing series of novels for The Shadow magazine. Many of his non-fictWalter B. Gibson wrote more than a hundred non-fiction books in addition to his amazing series of novels for The Shadow magazine. Many of his non-fiction works are about magic, but he also had a keen interest in the psychic and occult sciences. His wife, Litzka R. Gibson, wrote two books on palmistry, and together they compiled the exhaustive reference The Complete Illustrated Book of the Psychic Sciences published by Doubleday in 1966.
Dreams is a modest effort at only 128 pages, published by an outfit called Constellation International in 1969. It relies more on the work of Freud and Jung than scientific dream research, much of which occurred after it was written. Still, it offers an excellent summary of our understanding of dreams by the late ’60s, written in an entertaining and accessible style.
The opening chapter frames the world of dreams from an historical perspective. South American Indians who believe their souls actually engage in the activities dreamed. Borneo tribesmen who call upon witch doctors to rescue the soul of a dreamer left stranded when a dire dream jolts him awake. Gibson cites many examples around the globe of the wayward soul lost in a dream whose only hope to reunite with his waking life is the local psychic healer.
In every civilization there is a desire for understanding the meaning of dreams. “The ancient Egyptians spoke of a spirit entity called the “ka,” which inhabited the human body as an etheric double that hovered near the body after death.”
Modern dream interpretations began when the study transitioned from shamans to scholars. Dr. Thomas Jay Hudson’s The Law of Psychic Phenomena suggested man was of two minds, subjective (instinctive) and objective (reasoning), applicable to both waking and dream life.
“Working on the ‘stimulus theory,’ [French scholar Alfred] Maury traced various dreams to their probable sources and then decided to provide the necessary stimuli to prove his point.”
Maury documented how outside stimulus was incorporated in dream. His famous “guillotine dream” in which his head was cut cleanly from his body was triggered when “A cross-rod had fallen from the end of the bed above his head.” It struck him across the back of his neck.
Sigmund Freud felt Maury’s research too narrow, focused on only one element and followed his own thinking in the opposite direction. “Working on the assumption that internal impulses were the basic dream source, as opposed to some external stimulus, Freud fell back on an existing theory of ‘wish fulfillment’ as the primary cause.”
Freud used the terms “id” that which dwells in the unconscious, “ego” the conscious mediator between the urges of the id and the demands of the physical world, and “superego” the conscience which develops to guide behavior as the individual matures.
When represented with initials, Superego and Ego, and Id by the designation X, you have S-E-X, the dominant force in Freud’s dream interpretations. Prior to Freud, sex had barely been mentioned in history’s previous dream interpretations. His theories soon became so popular they dominated dream analysis for a significant period.
Dr. Joseph Jastrow, an American, contended dream study was more appropriate to the field of psychology than psychoanalysis. “What Freud does not sufficiently recognize is that dreams do not all follow similar courses because dreamers have different psychologies.”
An early associate of Freud, Dr. Alfred Adler also took exception to the idea of sex as sole motivator. Adler felt life’s problems were rooted in an inferiority complex. “This meant that consciousness and unconsciousness moved together in the same direction . . . hence evidence of the struggle would be apparent in both waking and dream life.”
Even more notable to the evolution of dream theory was Dr. Carl Jung, who studied under Freud in 1906. Jung introduced the terms “extrovert,” concern with physical and social surroundings, and “introvert,” concern with inner thoughts and feelings.
“Interest in the work of Edgar Cayce, known as the ‘sleeping prophet’ as well as other psychics, or spiritual-minded dreamers, has gained some impetus because of Jung’s broad outlook on the field of dreams.”
Next, dream classification systems are explored. One system assigned dreams into one of seven different types. Another idea sought to group them as simply negative or positive. Some psychologists advocated 20 types, to make categorization more definitive. Gibson lists all 20, along with, on average, a one-page description. Many will be familiar like Being Chased or Hunted, or Interrupted Preparation; but others may be more unexpected like Food and Eating, or Teeth.
The next chapter provides an unexpected analysis. Gibson examines two works by Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, from the perspective of both being built largely from dreams. “. . . we find that the author actually probes deeply into the world of dreams, covering nearly every phase of normal dream experience.”
Whether you agree on the source of Carroll’s inspiration or not, Gibson’s comparison of each story’s scenes with the common dream types, defined in the earlier chapter, provides a fascinating study.
To put a cherry on it, he concludes with the first and last three lines of Carroll’s poem at the conclusion of Looking-Glass: “A boat, beneath a sunny sky Lingering onward dreamily In an evening in July—
Ever drifting down the stream— Lingering in the golden gleam— Life, what is it but a dream?”
Psychic dreams are controversial, but Gibson’s position seems clear as he cites the testimony of Mark Twain who dreamt of his brother’s death in startling detail.
In another pivotal dream The Duke of Portland repeatedly dreams of a warning about the coronation of King Edward VII of England. The haunted Duke checks and rechecks every eventuality but can find nothing amiss, yet the dream continues. Finally, the truth dawns and the King is saved thanks to the Duke’s premonition.
Perhaps the most extraordinary example involves a partial inscription on a pair of earring unearthed in Nippur, near the site of ancient Babylon. After hours of fruitless attempts to decipher the incomplete writing, Dr. Herman V. Hilprecht retires wishing he had memories of the Asiatic desert of ancient Nippur to help him with his impossible task.
His dreams transport him through time and space and he finds himself before a priest who describes how he had cut a votive cylinder into three equal parts. Two were formed into earrings for the statue of Ninib; the third disposed where it would never be found. “He suggested that Hilprecht place the two rings together and make due allowance for the missing third, thus completing the full inscription.”
Awake suddenly, Hilprecht wakes his wife to tell her of the dream to help preserve every detail. In the morning, as he returned to his work, he allowed for the missing section and was able to translate the inscription at last.
Another purported power of dreams involves the transfer of information from one person to another—most notably a crime. Gibson documents four examples of murder foreseen by a dreamer related or well known to the victim. Although the dreams didn’t prevent the crimes, each individual dream made a significant contribution in solving the murder.
The book’s final 30 pages are a basic Dreams Dictionary. The section is literally a reference resource and not designed to be read-through like the rest of the book. The definitions align well with the twenty dream types presented earlier, but it felt more like filler than something of equal value to the other chapters.
Nevertheless, Dreams provides useful coverage of the early history of dream analysis, several fascinating prophetic dream examples and Gibson’s wonderful exploration of how dreams may inspire fiction. -RK...more
I’ve seen back issues of this title on ebay, but it didn’t quite register this digest was still in print until I happened to see it in the magazine seI’ve seen back issues of this title on ebay, but it didn’t quite register this digest was still in print until I happened to see it in the magazine section at Powell’s city of books. Most of the covers I recall feature horror films, not really my thing, so I was pleasantly surprised to see Philo Vance as the cover story on this edition.
In the issue’s opening comments, editor Tim Lucas tells us, “Any issue assembled during the holiday season is prone to a spirit of nostalgia, but this issue particularly so . . .” He goes on to discuss access to his local paper’s online archive where he researched playdates via vintage theater ads to piece together a personal chronology of his big screen viewing habits—all horror flicks—validating my impression from past covers.
“Dog Bytes” presents a collection of short movie reviews, that I believe were recently released on DVD or perhaps rereleased on Blu-ray. Most seem to be of potential interest to fans of horror or other low-budget genres. Included are Bunnyman Massacre, a trio of Ninja flicks, The Hitch-Hiker, Leviathan, The Lost Empire, Night of the Comet, The Odd Angry Shot, Voodoo Man and Wither.
“Larry Balmire’s Star Turn” examines the “Three Hours to Kill” episode from the second season of The Rookies TV show first broadcast on Feb. 12, 1973. Apparently it was an above-average episode of the series, worth seeing for the performances its stars Jacqueline Scott and Paul Carr.
Ramsey Campbell reviews Morituris in “Ramsey’s Rambles.” Based on his description of this Italian atrocity, the two-page write-up serves best as a warning to stay as far away as possible.
Things ramp up considerably with Douglas E. Winter’s “Audio Watchdog” report on the music of Jóhann Jóhannsson, who won the Golden Globe for the score to The Theory of Everything. “—the most pleasing, but not the best, of his film work—” Winter fills out his overview by tracing the composer’s collaborations with other musicians and his work on films such as The Miners’ Hymns, Prisoners and Sicario. The article piqued my interest enough to search out Jóhannsson’s work on YouTube, where I found several soundtracks to help clearly understand what all the fuss is about.
Tim Lucas provides a feature-length review of two recent collections of the films of Werner Herzog. Along with exhaustive production detail, Lucas delivers a series of well-considered reviews on each of the films in the combined collections as well as a sentence or two on the shorts and features.
Here’s an example of his observations about Even Dwarfs Started Small: “The story is not without a beginning, middle and end, but Herzog’s approach to filming the situation is to explore how quickly absolute freedom becomes anarchy, and how rapidly anarchy becomes destructive to the anarchists themselves. This freedom applied not only to the revolt but to the revolutionary act of making the film itself, which documents how purposeful revolution deteriorates into unpurposeful revelry and, eventually, entropic repetitions with ever-diminishing returns.”
Fata Morgana; Land of Silence and Darkness; Aguirre, the Wrath of God; The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser; Heart of Glass; Stroszek; and Woyzeck are treated in succession to Lucas’ thoughtful observations. But even at 16 pages, there’s only so much space, so the study continues next issue (on newsstands March 4) with Herzog’s remake of the classic: Nosferatu the Vampyre.
Over a decade before Charlie Chan debuted, Earl Derr Biggers wrote Seven Keys to Baldpate, a novel about a novelist who seeks a quiet place to work at the isolated Baldpate Inn. In “Baldpate: The Long Road to the House of the Long Shadows” Kim Newman praises Biggers for his “Old Dark House” setting, used since in so many other works—for example The Shining. No less than George M. Cohan quickly adapted Biggers’ novel for the stage before the year (1913) was out and it subsequently saw six film versions over several decades, seven when you include House of the Long Shadows, the final destination of Newman’s article.
Over the first eight of his ten-page piece, Newman examines the pros and cons of the story’s major film productions from 1917, 1929, 1935 and 1947, available on DVD. At last the journey brings us to the final entry from 1983, a montage of the 1913 novel and play, subsequent film scripts and considerable new material. “. . . a film one always wishes were better than it is.” That said, House of the Long Shadows, is worth consideration for its stars alone—John Carradine, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Vincent Price—their only film together.
Kim Newman also contributes the cover piece “Spotlight: Philo Vance.” Willard Huntington Wright, writing as S.S. Van Dine, penned twelve Philo Vance novels from 1926 to 1939. Newman’s six-page feature centers on the character’s film persona in the six films of the Philo Vance Murder Case Collection on DVD. Unlike many film series, this one has its lead detective played by a different actor in nearly every outing—Basil Rathbone, William Powell, Warren William, Paul Lukas, Chandu Edmund Lowe and James Stephenson. Newman provides his now familiar style of synopses for each film interspersed with numerous career asides on each of their players.
"Discs in Depth" features reviews of twelve DVDs issued from 2011–2013 (as best as I can determine). Here’s the list: Alfred Hitchcock Presents Season Five and The Soul of the Monster by Michael Barrett; City That Never Sleeps and Hoodlum Empire by Eric Somer; Cold Eyes of Fear and Killer’s Moon by Lloyd Haynes; Legacy of Satan/Blood and Sampo by Tim Lucas; Saturn 3 and Space Raiders by John Charles; and Supernatural (a BBC television series) by Brad Stevens. The feature is aptly named. These reviews answer the key questions of what it’s about, who’s in it, did you like and why, as well as illustrative dialogue, technical specs, comparisons (if there are other versions to compare), and the quality of the reproduction.
Like much of the magazine, selections skew toward horror/monster discs, but for those less enamored with maniacs and monstrosities, some entries venture to genres beyond.
The “Biblio Watchdog” column features Tim Lucas’ review of Consumed, the first novel by writer/director David Cronenberg and several titles in the “FAQ” series that cover Star Trek, Horror Films, Armageddon Films and Doctor Who, reviewed by John-Paul Checkett.
The issue’s final two pages are reserved for “The Letterbox,” which reprints LOCs and emails about issues #177–179.
From the design perspective, hat’s off to AD Donna Lucas. VW provides high-quality production design and layout with exceptionally sharp repro and creative, clear presentation of its content in full color. At $8.95 a copy, this puppy is the real steal.
As an adolescent I was an avid reader of Forry Ackerman’s Famous Monsters of Filmland. I recall being quite fond of it except for all its inane attempts at humor. It never seemed able to take its subject matter seriously enough for my taste. Parts of VW dance at the other extreme. Some of its analysis and thematic dissection go too deep into the guts of its subject matter for me. Okay, the byline clearly states “The Perfectionist’s Guide to Fantastic Video” so I guess it's upfront about its literary leanings. That said, if you’re a fan of fantastic video, you can’t go wrong with Video Watchdog. It’s fun, comprehensive, intelligent, edifying and one of the few true indie titles you’ll find on today’s newsstands. ...more
Another fine edition of Suspense. Several standouts as well as some average reads. They average out to about 3.6, so we'll round it up to 4 starts. ThAnother fine edition of Suspense. Several standouts as well as some average reads. They average out to about 3.6, so we'll round it up to 4 starts. The standouts are “And Never Came Back” by Dorothy Marie Davis, “You Killed Elizabeth” by Brett Halliday and “Murder Town” by Raymond Drennen....more